NYT: How Humanity Has Unleashed a Flood of Zoonotic Diseases

From The New York Times:

How Humanity Has Unleashed a Flood of Zoonotic Diseases

“As we degrade animal habitats, reduce biodiversity and reach ever deeper into the wilderness for resources, we’re all but certain to encounter more diseases like Covid-19.

Between 60 and 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans come from other animals, [such as] rabies, Lyme, anthrax, mad cow disease, SARS, Ebola, West Nile, Zika.

The H.I.V./AIDS pandemic, which has infected 75 million people and killed 32 million, may have begun in the early 20th century, with one or more hunters butchering a chimpanzee in what is now Cameroon. Some researchers think the 2013 to 2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa — the most severe in history, infecting more than 28,000 people and killing more than 11,000 — may have started with a 2-year-old boy playing in a hollow tree inhabited by bats.

As we restructure Earth’s biosphere to suit our whims, we open hidden conduits between other animals’ microbiomes and our own. Once those channels are in place, pathogens can no more stop themselves from spilling into us than water can prevent itself from running downhill. We cannot blame the bats, mosquitoes and viruses. We cannot expect them to go against their nature. The challenge before us is how best to govern ourselves and stymie the flood we unleashed. “

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